Saturday, April 13, 2013

Corruption: U.S. - Lawyer pleads guilty to role in massive immigration fraud scheme

U.S. Attorney’s Office 
Southern District of New York

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; George Venizelos, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”); Raymond W. Kelly, the Commissioner of the Police Department for the City of New York (“NYPD”); and Patricia A. Menges, the Director of the New York Asylum Office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), announced that attorney JOHN LIN pled guilty today in Manhattan federal court to one count of conspiring to commit immigration fraud. LIN is the eighth lawyer charged for his participation in a massive immigration fraud scheme involving thousands of fraudulent asylum applications that were allegedly submitted by at least 10 law firms in the New York City area. He pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “For those seeking asylum from persecution in their native countries, United States immigration laws provide a vital escape hatch. Not only did John Lin abuse those laws and violate his duties as an officer of the court, but he also made it harder for legitimate asylum seekers. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute those who violate this country’s immigration laws.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos remarked: “Lin, a lawyer and officer of the court, violated the ethical obligations of his profession while breaking the law. Assisting others with their fraudulent asylum claims enabled them to enter the country under false pretenses. The scheme exploited a program designed to provide safe haven for real victims of persecution.”

NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said: “It’s bad enough when new arrivals to this country are victimized by common criminals, but despicable when a member of the bar dishonors his sworn duties to exploit a system designed to protect some of the most vulnerable among us.”

USCIS New York Asylum Office Director Patricia A. Menges stated: “Asylum is a humanitarian protection that represents the best of American values. USCIS is committed to ensuring that criminals like Mr. Lin aren’t allowed to abuse this protection for personal gain. We appreciate the efforts of U.S. Attorney Bharara’s office, the NYPD, the FBI, and USCIS’s Fraud Detection and National Security Program in helping us protect the integrity of this important program.”

According to the information and other documents filed in this case:

LIN was an attorney at a law office located in New York City (the “Law Firm”). As part of the scheme, the defendant and his co-conspirators profited by creating and submitting asylum applications containing false stories of persecution purportedly suffered by Chinese alien applicants.

The law firm made up stories of persecution that often followed one of three fact patterns: (a) forced abortions performed pursuant to China’s family planning policy; (b) persecution based on the client’s belief in Christianity; or (c) political or ideological persecution, typically for membership in China’s Democratic Party or followers of Falun Gong. Since 2006, the Law Firm has submitted more than 500 asylum applications.


LIN, 53, of Staten Island, New York, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and three years of supervised release. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Sidney H. Stein, on August 12, 2013 at 4:00 p.m.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI, NYPD, and USCIS.

The prosecution is part of Operation Fiction Writer, a joint investigation led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District, the FBI, the NYPD, and the USCIS. To date, 28 defendants, including eight lawyers, have been charged with participating in nine separate but overlapping immigration fraud schemes in New York City. Of the 28 defendants charged, two defendants—LIN and attorney Meng Fei Yu—have pled guilty. Charges against the remaining 26 defendants are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Harris Fischman and Robert Boone are in charge of the prosecution.